Container Gardening Guide

Easy, eye-catching and fun, container plants are a great way to extend your garden, utilise space and dress up your outdoor area. We've got some great ideas for container planters you can easily make at home.

Create drama at your entrance with potted plants flanking your front door, add some aromatic green herbs to the top of your outdoor table and adorn your deck with a grouping of striking shrubs, grasses and colourful flowers.

Prepare

Make sure that you place your containers in an area that receives plenty of sunlight. At least five hours sunlight a day is recommended and as many hours as you can for fruiting plants!

Like building a house a good foundation is the key to the success of your potted plants. The better the soil, the better your plants will grow. Healthy soil is especially important when growing in a limited area. When planting in pots or containers, choose a potting mix that is free draining and includes a wetting agent and fertilisers. 

Choosing your mix 

  • Tui Pot Power is a premium, lightweight and free draining potting mix. It contains the added benefit of Acadian seaweed to stimulate root development and improve overall plant health and a controlled release fertiliser to feed your plants for up to six months. It also contains water storing granules for improved water holding capacity and SaturAid wetting agent to spread water evenly to the root zone.
  • You can also choose a mix specially designed for what you are planting e.g. Tui Herb Mix for garden-fresh herbs. Tui Herb Mix contains the right blend of nutrients to provide your herbs with the best possible start and sustained growth for continuous harvesting.

The right container

In addition to the perfect potting mix, the perfect container has to be chosen.

Large plants need large containers. If the container is too small it will restrict the roots, slowing growth and causing plants to dry out faster.

Ask garden centre staff for advice or research the recommended sizes for particular plants, and always make sure containers have plenty of drainage for water to drain. If a container doesn't have drainage holes you can create your own if needed. 

PLANT

Select your plants. A useful system to follow is to plant a 'Feature', 'Filler' and a 'Spiller' in larger pots. e.g. a fruit tree as the 'Feature', lavender as a 'Filler', and then a flowering plant which will 'Spill' over the edge of the container.

Perfect plant options for containers:

  • Shrubs and grasses: Tibouchina, Nandina, Ficus 'Tuffy' are great shrub options.
  • Herbs: coriander, basil, rosemary, sage, thyme.
  • Salad greens: lettuce, spinach, mesclun, rocket, radish. 
  • Succulents.
  • Flowers: plant a variety of flowers - cyclamen, marigold, petunia and lavender are all good options.
  • Dwarf fruit trees including lemon, lime and apple. 

Directions for planting shrubs, trees and flowers in containers:

  • Before potting, soak plants in a bucket of Tui Organic Seaweed Plant Tonic and allow to drain. This will help prevent transplant shock.
  • Half fill your container with Tui Pot Power.
  • Gently take the plant from the current container, loosen the root ball and remove any loose or dead plant material and roots.
  • Position the plant in the centre of the new container and fill with Tui Pot Power up to 3cm from the top.
  • Gently firm potting mix around the base of the plant. The potting mix should be at the same level on the plant as it was previously.
  • Water your plant well and continue to water regularly.

Directions for planting herbs and succulents in containers:

  • Before potting, soak plants in a bucket of Tui Organic Seaweed Plant Tonic and allow to drain. This will help prevent transplant shock.
  • Half fill your container with Tui Herb Mix.
  • Gently take the plant from the current container, loosen the root ball and remove any loose or dead plant material and roots.
  • Position the plant in the centre of the new container and fill with Tui Herb Mix up to 3cm from the top.
  • Gently firm mix around the base of the plant. The mix should be at the same level on the plant as it was in the previous container.
  • Water your plant well and continue to water regularly.

If planting veges in containers, use Tui Vegetable Mix with all the goodness veges need to start and grow healthily. 

Nourish

Plants use nutrients from the soil as they grow. A controlled release fertiliser within your potting mix will provide nutrients and some mixes such as Tui Pot Power keep feeding for up to six months. Continuing to replenish nutrients will ensure your plants remain healthy. Tui Enrich Pots & Containers is an all purpose controlled release fertiliser for plants in containers.

Soil in containers dries out quicker than soil in the garden. SaturAid granular soil wetter helps to prevent this. All Tui potting mixes contain SaturAid - it channels water to the root zone where it is needed most. Apply every season to further enhance water absorption and retention.

Plants grown in containers require regular watering. It is best to water deeply twice a week rather than a little each day to encourage deep roots. Water in the morning or evening to avoid water evaporation.

Well watered, well nourished plants will have a better chance of keeping insect pests and diseases at bay.

Shopping list

These elegant tall white pots planted with Tibouchina, a flowering annual shrub, turn an uninteresting entrance way into a stylish feature.

Succulent pot

Have fresh herbs at your fingertips on your outdoor table and add interesting structure with succulents.

Plant a mixture of shrubs, flowers and grasses to add interest, texture and contrast. For these stunning containers we’ve paired Ficus 'Tuffy' with white cyclamen flowers, and Nandina (an evergreen shrub with a red hue) with a textured grass. Grouping container plants along one side of your deck creates a homely, mini-garden vibe.

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Container Gardening Guide Comments

  • Guidance for container gardens south facing to brighten a garage wall. What best to plant in this situation, due to lack of sun and in frost prone Waikato?

    Jill Robinson

  • Hi Jill, If you have large containers you could plant conifers, evergreen azaleas, low growing rhododendrons, camellias, Pieris (lily of the valley tree). Lower growing perennials and bulbs such as hellebores (winter rose), hosta, clivia, cyclamen, pots of colour such as primula, polyanthus, tulip bulbs, viola, pansies, and in summer plant busy lizzies, they will get frosted in winter, but give a great display all summer long and do well in a shady spot. I hope these suggestions are of some help.

    The Tui Team